South Africa’s biomes (go to Biomes map)

      Forest Biome

  • Forest is the smallest biome in South Africa, covering only about 0.1% of the country (1 062 km2).

  • Forests are found from sea level to above 2000 metres. They grow in areas with high rainfall and no frost. Forests are moist and seldom burn.

  • Forests consist of trees that form a closed canopy, with layers of plants beneath the canopy.

  • The largest and most famous forests in South Africa are the Knysna and Tsitsikamma Forests of the southern Cape.

  • Most other forests are very small and isolated. They include dune forests in KwaZulu Natal and mountain forests (e.g. on the slopes of Table Mountain and the Drakensberg).

  • Forest plants include yellowwood, stinkwood and ironwood trees; climbers and epiphytes; and mosses and ferns.

  • Animals include Bushpig, Bushbuck, monkeys, Knysna Loeries, pigeons and eagles.

  • Between 1800 and 2000, people destroyed about 40% of South Africa’s forests. Trees were harvested for timber and coastal forests were destroyed to plant sugarcane.

  • Today many indigenous forests have been replaced by plantations of alien trees (e.g. pine trees). The harvesting of indigenous forest trees is strictly controlled.